A multi-attribute ranking method for bridge management

Saleh Abu Dabous, Sabah Alkass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose - A bridge network is a major capital asset that requires continuing investment in order to maintain the network within acceptable limits of safety and serviceability. Ranking and prioritizing procedures have been widely used by several departments of transportation to select bridges for intervention and to distribute the available funds among competing projects. The available ranking and prioritizing procedures have various drawbacks, and an improved, rational ranking and prioritizing procedure is needed. The paper aims to address these issues. Design/methodology/approach - The requirements and characteristics of an innovative ranking and prioritizing method are identified during interviews with professionals involved in bridge management. Based on these requirements, multi-attribute utility theory (MAUT) is selected to develop the method. A technique to develop utility functions based on the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) is discussed. A hierarchy structure that captures the decision-making elements is presented. A case study is used to demonstrate the applicability and the validity of the proposed ranking method. Findings - The research findings have identified the decision objectives and the criteria essential to rank and prioritize bridge projects, and these are included within a framework to rank and prioritize bridge projects while incorporating experts' input in the process. Practical implications - The proposed framework includes weights for the various objectives and recommends utility functions to evaluate the different attributes. In addition, the framework provides flexibility to adjust the weights and to modify the utility functions to reflect network-specific characteristics. This method can be used by departments of transportation to rank bridges in a network, even incorporating conflicting criteria, and it can be integrated within an already implemented bridge management methodology. Originality/value - Ranking and prioritizing projects are essential steps in bridge management. Current methods for ranking and prioritizing bridge projects are associated with various drawbacks. This paper proposes an innovative ranking method for bridge networks, based on MAUT. This theory provides flexibility for the decision makers in expressing their degree of satisfaction with each bridge attribute.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-291
Number of pages10
JournalEngineering, Construction and Architectural Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Analytical hierarchy process
  • Bridges
  • Decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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